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Affirmative

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The primary goal of affirmative action in the academic community was to provide students of every race a more equal opportunity for higher education. This policy targets the underrepresented minorities, particularly African Americans and Hispanics, who come mostly from disadvantaged economic backgrounds. Affirmative action was carried upon this logic: ethnicity and economic status, which are often interrelated, should not be an impediment for equally well-qualified students to obtaining higher education. For most prestigious universities, the easiest way to achieve this goal is by giving extra points to minority applicants during the process of admission selection. Although affirmative action does benefit minorities like African Americans and Hispanics, many side effects show that this policy is flawed and shortsighted. Affirmative action does not only adversely affect the under-represented Asian Americans but also puts many well-qualified students, who are not part of the “minority” profile, at a disadvantage.

Although the ultimate goal to is to promote diversity and equal opportunities, affirmative action targets African Americans and Hispanics. Although equality is precisely what the US as a country symbolizes, social stratifications still exist. Among these stratifications, racial hierarchies are the most noticeable. Statistics show that while high-income occupations and prestigious universities are predominantly occupied by Caucasians and Asian Americans, the minorities such as African American and Hispanics fall in the lower stratum. Condaliza Rice and Willie Brown are extreme exceptions. The government decided to alleviate this stratification by legalizing affirmative action, giving exclusive help to the disadvantaged races. Affirmative action was carried out after the U.S Supreme Court ruled that race could be considered in college admissions (Carmargo). For a time, “University of Michigan automatically gave extra points to African-American, Latino and American Indian applicants.” (Asian Nation 10/04). An article from Inside Higher Education provides a detailed admission statistics for the University of Michigan:

SAT median for black students admitted to Michigan’s main undergraduate college was 1160 in 2005, compared to 1260 for Hispanics, 1350 for whites and 1400 for Asians. High school grade point averages were 3.4 for black applicants, 3.6 for Hispanics, 3.8 for Asians, and 3.9 for whites. (Jaschik)

Selection criteria were lowered in attempt to increase the percentage of African Amercians and Hispanics among the admitted applicants, based on the assumption that racial and economic factors indirectly or directly prevents well-qualified minorities from performing as well as Asian Americans and Caucasians in classes and standarized tests.

Minorities are not often not only victims of racial discrimination but also poverty. Since the 19th century, African Americans had been known to be victims of racism everywhere, work and school. Although the law forbids segregation and racial discrimination, biases still exist. Hispanics tend to be economically disadvantaged. Students from low-income families may not have the opportunity to go to a better school or take extracurricular lessons, such as violin or piano. The middle and high schools in upper-middle class suburbs are noticeably more qualified and well-known than schools from urban neighborhoods. These are all factors that would affect an applicant’s chance in the admission process. Prestigious universities have been known to show preference for students from well-known high schools. Without the affirmative action, a Caucasian who had a 2400 SAT score, came from a prep school in New York and has taken violin lessons for years would be favored over an African American who had the same SAT score but attended a low-performance school and had very little extracurricular activities. Affirmative action thus seeks to create more opportunities for everyone by giving exclusive priority to the disadvantaged.

The high percentage of Asian Americans has compelled universities to take affirmative actions to make the student body more ethnically diverse. There is no doubt that Asian Americans do occupy a high percentage of the student population among top universities throughout the country. According to Inside Higher Education, “ Asian enrollment exceed 25 percent вЂ" something that is increasingly common at elite publics in California and top universities elsewhere.” The Asian American dominance is the most noticeable in California, with the immense racial diversity. UCSD consists of nearly 50% Asian Americans. UC Irvine is nearly 80%. Although affirmative action might have opened up more chances for the minority, a significant number of well-qualified Asian American applicants were sacrificed, especially in the most elite schools. An excerpt of a Washington Post article illustrates the seriousness of the problem.

Many Americans, including some of Asian descent, have grown accustomed to seemingly irrational and unfair admissions decisions by selective colleges and shrug off the Asian numbers as something that can’t be helped... Asian American applicants’ chances “would improve dramatically if race was not used as a factor in admissions, perhaps at the cost of the white applicants, something that only a few selective schools have dared to do,” he said. (qtd. in Asian Nation 10/2004)

This article shows that using ethnicity as a factor in college admissions has adversely affected the chances of many well-qualified applicants who do not fall under the “minority” category. This policy, however, has gone far enough to a point where it becomes an injustice to other ethnic groups.

While possibly benefiting the minorities like African Americans and Hispanics, affirmative action fails to help the under-represented Asian subgroups. The Asian American profile is underrepresented. It is unfair to categorize all Asians under one category when there are so many subgroups that are distinctly different from one another. There are certain subgroups of Asians who are not part of this academically, socially and economically successful Asian American pool (Asian Nation). “In a report released last summer, the federal Government Accountability Office warned that the “Asian” umbrella masks the underperformance of some Asian subgroups, like Vietnamese and Native Hawaiians” (Asian Nation). Not all Asians are overachievers. Not all Asians come from white-collar families. The Asian American profile failed to separate the second generation Southeast Asian immigrants, whose parents came to the US for manual labor and were unable to provide them decent education

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